Translation and Rewriting (Japanese-English)
|I am most grateful for being invited to the Boao Forum and being given the opportunity to address this session today. The title of the session, 'Post-Cancun Multilateral Trading System and Asian Economic Integration', encapsulates one of the most important issues now facing Japanese trade policy. Today I will outline the positioning of the two elements of the topic, namely (1) the WTO and (2) economic partnerships with East Asia, with respect to Japan's trade policies.|
|I would like to begin by thanking you for inviting me to this Boao Forum for Asia and giving me an opportunity to speak in this session. Given that the session title is 'Post-Cancun Multilateral Trading System and Asian Economic Integration', I will just focus on two of the most relevant tenets of Japanese international trade policy. Specifically, I will talk about the WTO and about economic partnerships with East Asia -- explaining our policies and locating them within the policy matrix.|
Structure and flow
- The first sentence is a standard opening. with a typical 頂き...感謝しております structure.
- The speaker then takes two important topics expressed in the title and proposes to cover them in more detail.
- In my translation, I've followed the Japanese closely. One small change is the passive タイトルには...挙げられております, '... are raised in the title', which I have changed to 'The title ... encapsulates...'.
- Less happy is 'the positioning of the two elements ... with respect to Japan's trade policies'.
- The official translation departs from slavish fidelity to the structure of the Japanese orginal. The original structure goes: 'The title contains two most important issues for trade policy, X and Y. I will explain these and their positioning in our trade policy'. The official translation says 'I will focus on two of the most relevant tenets of trade policy. Specifically, I will discuss X and Y, explaining and locating them in our trade policy'. This somewhat illogical version -- presumably the two relevant tenets of trade policy are X and Y -- does make for a more lively and forceful opening.
- The second sentence of the original abounds in vocabulary typical of this kind of document: 重要 ('important'), 課題 ('task'), 要素 ('element'), 位置づけられている ('positioned, located'), and 説明する ('to explain'). I usually make a point of avoiding dictionary translations by having a handful of standard alternatives up my sleeve.
- An example is 説明, often mechanically translated as 'explain' or 'explanation'. My preferred alternatives are 'outline' or 'introduce', which often sit better in English than 'explain'. Similarly for 課題, often translated unthinkingly as 'task', which is sometimes better translated as 'issue' as I have done here.
- While this is a useful approach, however, its impact on final quality is ultimately limited and runs the risk of substituting one kneejerk reaction for another.
|Japanese original||Literal meaning||My translation||Official translation|
|最も重要||'most important'||'most important'||'most relevant'|
|位置づけられている||'to be positioned/located'||'positioning'||'locate them ... within...'|
|通商政策||'trade policy'||'trade policy'||'trade policy matrix'|
|説明する||'to explain'||'outline'||'focus on ....explaining'|
- The official translation is an excellent model for breaking free from literalism. It is full of vocabulary and turns of phrase that add punch and appeal for English speakers: 'focus on', 'relevant tenets', 'Japanese international trade policy', 'locating them within the policy matrix', etc. These bring the English to life.
- I like buzzwords in translation. Although often decried by critics of style, they are a godsend for translators and can help a translation speak directly and convincingly to the target audience. An example is 'policy matrix'. While possibly sounding pretentious and hackneyed in English, it does wonders here in making the translation sound professional and appealing.